Saturday, July 11, 2009

Auteur Watch - George Miller(s)

When you get right down to it, it seems like there's a George Miller in every profession, really. There's one in politics. There was one in stand-up comedy. In the world of big time movie directors, though, there's two big ones. There's a third small one which we'll just skip completely. There's the first one who won an Oscar for a film about penguins, and there's the other one with titles under his belt such as The Man from Snowy River, Zeus and Roxanne, and Les Patterson Saves the World. And the Snowy River George Miller's worked twice as hard as the penguin George Miller lo these many years, and done television, too! For God's sake! So how unfair is that? One George Miller's been working his ass off longer and harder than just about anyone in this biz, and yet, some young punk kid ALSO named George Miller, he has one film called Mad Max, and suddenly HE'S the one to remember? What, doesn't the DGA have any cojones like the SAG? Couldn't they force one to change their name, or at least adopt a pretentious initial? Life's just unfair.
But that's how it works in the big leagues, folks. Sometimes it's better to be a little picky and choosy with your projects. For example, the Snowy River George Miller, he did a film with Steve Guttenberg. Bad career move. Seems to be the final straw that broke the silver screen's back. So, Snowy River George Miller: what's his favorite career decade? Is it the more innocent 1970s, when he was just starting out, lean and hungry, doing TV exclusively? Or was it the 80s when his star was on the rise, and in addition to all the TV work, there was some theatrical releases as well? Maybe it's the 90s, where the American theatrical releases were at their peak, and things looked like they would go on forever until... well, until the theatrical stuff started losing traction, and then it was back to TV exclusively. Why, he couldn't even sell Robinson Crusoe, for God's sake! How hard is that?
Ironically enough, both George Millers took a break in the 2000s to reflect on their career, and where to go from their respective stopping points. Now, the Mad Max George Miller... what could be his favorite decade? Surely it's the 70s. He was lean and hungry, and working with Mel Gibson before he went crazy. Work was slow, but hey. Some people start slow but end up taking the whole planet by storm. Or maybe it was the decadent 80s? They were surely decadent for him. It took him a while to escape the allure of Mad Max sequels, but the Spielbergian lessons clearly rubbed off by the more kid-friendly third installment. After the success of Witches of Eastwick, things began to slow down, and he took it easy during the 90s. He turned to producing, producing the megahit Babe. Confident from the success, he took it upon himself to do the sequel. Not received as well, unfortunately! Mainly because they switched voices. Rule number one: never switch pig voices in midstream. Dexter's Laboratory did a fine job, give her the bigger paycheck, you shmuck! Alas, it was too late, and he would never direct again...
...until 2006, that is! The surprise Oscar winner for best animated feature, Happy Feet! Beating out those bastards over at Pixar, the story of animated penguins couldn't have come at a better time. Apparently, he even directed the HBO special about it, he was feeling so good! He caught the Penguin wave just in time; Surf's Up just crashed and burned, dude.
So, what are the respective George Millers up to right now? Well, the lame one's doing something called Fiji. Hmm. Must be a James Michener thing. I'm too cheap to subscribe to IMDbPro, but trust me: it'll probably suck. And it'll probably be hard to find, too. As for the alpha one, it's sequels, sequels, sequels! Mad Max 4 is back on track... maybe they find a discarded jumbo jet this time and Rockatansky uses it as a decoy. Wouldn't that be something? Being chased down a lone backroad through the outback by a ragtag bunch of gas hooligans driving souped-up junk heaps? Now that's what I call hybrids! They blow out the tires of this jumbo jet with little tiny crossbows, find the tank's full of sand, drive off in disgust... He's also got Happy Feet 2 where the Dubya-esque penguin gets impeached. Miller's also entering Wolfgang Peterson-territory with Homer's The Odyssey with Brad Pitt. And who knows? Maybe Matt Damon and George Clooney will have show-stopping cameos as Scylla and Charibdes? I gotta go...

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